The Watchdog

Section of Metcalf will be closed a few more months

Updated: 2014-01-04T01:31:00Z

The problem

Lynda Cox of Louisburg, Kan., wonders how long Metcalf Avenue will be shut down north of 179th Street in Johnson County. She says businesses, motorists and bicyclists have been inconvenienced.

“It's been closed around four months now … and has created much more congestion on 151st Street and more traffic on 69 Highway,” she said.

The answer

Don’t expect to drive there before spring, Lynda.

Crews closed the road in August so they could replace the deck, or driving surface, on the Metcalf bridge over the Blue River. The $835,000 project is being done by Johnson County and Overland Park.

The original completion date was in November, but an early administrative hiccup pushed it back until December, said Justin Nickel, the engineer overseeing the project for Overland Park.

Then in November, crews discovered that the bridge also needed structural repairs — work not envisioned at the outset. Now the project won’t be finished until April, or longer if the weather is bad.

The structural problem wasn’t visible until workers pulled up the driving surface and found deteriorated concrete below, Nickel said. The cost of the added repairs isn’t known yet.

Nickel acknowledged that the delay has upset residents in the Stilwell area, but he said there was no choice but to make the repairs.

“It had to be done for the safety of the bridge to be open again for traffic.”

The Watchdog agrees it’s better to address the problem now. A Labrador retriever might enjoy a dunk in the Blue River, but most of us would not.

Do you have a problem or a question about a public issue? Write to the Watchdog, The Kansas City Star, Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send email to watchdog@kcstar.com. Include your name, phone number and city of residence.

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